10/03/2017 11:41 GMT | Updated 10/03/2017 16:00 GMT

Prasa Train Contractor Allegedly Paid ANC 'Fundraisers' R80m

This was how it apparently worked: Prasa made a payment on the contract, then the contractor paid the 'fundraisers'.

An artist impression of a commuter train built by French company Alstom for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

Less than a week after Prasa made its first payment of nearly R500 million to the supplier of the controversial Afro4000 locomotives, the latter's managing director paid an amount of R14.3 million into the account of a lawyer who had introduced himself as a fundraiser for the ANC.

Auswell Mashaba, the MD of Swifambo Rail Leasing, has admitted in court papers that he had over a period of more than a year paid a total amount of roughly R80 million to George Sabelo, an ANC-linked lawyer, and to Maria Gomes, an Angolan businesswoman who had once described herself as a close friend of President Jacob Zuma.

Mashaba has admitted that both Sabelo and Gomes were introduced to him as "ANC fundraisers", but he has denied that the payments he made to them were linked to the Prasa contract.

The latest affidavit was filed in Prasa's ongoing court bid to have a contract signed with Mashaba's company, Swifambo Rail Leasing, for the acquisition of new locomotives, be set aside.

Mashaba's court filings refers to a meeting he'd had with Prasa's former chair, Popo Molefe, in August 2015, after news broke that the locomotives were too tall. Molefe queried Mashaba over his financial contributions to the ruling party.

"I reasonably assumed that Mr Molefe was enquiring as to my personal contributions toward the ANC. Mr Molefe certainly neither clarified nor even implied that he requested this information in respect of Swifambo, in which instance, I would have answered that, to my knowledge, no donations had been made by Swifambo to the ANC," reads Mashaba's affidavit.

"Concerning my contributions (which are wholly irrelevant to this matter): I was contacted by Mr Sabelo, a member of the ANC who professed to be a fundraiser for the ANC. He introduced me to Ms Gomes, who he informed me was also a fundraiser for the ANC," wrote Mashaba.

On Friday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe again denied that the party got money from the contractcor.

"We never received the R80m," Mantashe told News24 on Friday.